Laborers for Justice & Democracy
1601 Ocean Avenue, #346
San Francisco, CA 94112
After months of campaigning to re-open the San Jose Local #270 hiring hall, the members have prevailed. Most members say the credit goes to Carlos Lujan, a rank-and-file member. Lujan has been very vocal in the fight for justice and democracy in Local #270. At one meeting, Lujan was handing out an open letter to Laborers Union members from Alex Corns, Business Manager of the Hod Carriers Local #36.
Lujan was approached by LIUNA Vice-President Max Warren, who told Lujan that the letter is "full of lies and inaccuracies." Lujan asked Vice-President Warren: if the letter is full of lies, why don't you respond? He then asked Warren: why have you and the International left Ray Duran in office after he was found guilty of losing a $180,000 of union money in illegal transactions? Warren said: I didn't leave him in, Peter Vaira did.
The problem is, Peter Vaira is not in charge of the supervision, Max Warren is, and could remove Ray Duran tomorrow, but then the Northern California District Council would be losing another officer and "yes man". You can obtain a copy of the original letter by Alex Corns on the internet at www.laborers.org and you be the Judge of who is lying: Warren or Corns.
Gary Wall and William Cooksey have filed a civil action in the United States District Court of Connecticut against Robert Luskin, General Executive Board Attorney LIUNA; Vere O. Haynes, LIUNA Vice President; alleged MOB figure Dominick Loperato of Laborers Local #230; Charles LeConche, Business Manager of Local #230 and the Connecticut District Council; and John Pezzente, Robert Cheverie, and Harriet Roman. Mr. Cooksey and Mr. Wall charge their civil rights have been violated since running for union office in the mid-1980's and that Local #230's leadership has made a determined effort to destroy both men's careers.
Brother Steven Manos, a candidate for office in Local #230 against Business Manager Charles LeConche, recently flew to Washington D.C. on his own money to testify before a Senate Committee about the abuse of power and lack of Democracy in the Laborers International Union.
The Laborers International had their attorney Michael Bearse there for damage control. Guess who paid for his time? The members of LIUNA. Does Mr. Bearse think it is democratic not to let the members vote on their contracts ? Does Mr. Bearse think the members should elect the District officials? Let's talk about real democracy. Let the members elect the district councils - that is the first real step to throwing the MOB out of LIUNA. District council elections are the key.
LFJD recently received a letter from a member in the Southern United States who told us he and his co- workers belong to a pension plan with a contribution of .10 cents an hour. The member said he had never seen a plan booklet or a financial statement for the plan, and did not know who the plan administrator is. We advised the member to contact the Local Union Business Manager and ask him how a member can obtain these things? If he does not respond, contact your regional office and then those hard working six figured guys in Washington. In all fairness, local agents usually respond to the members' needs right away. If you folks need more help, we will send copies of ERISA laws and names of honest attorneys and Department of Labor Officials in your area.
LFJD received an "Objection To Settlement" that was filed in the case of 8,000 workers attempting to recover $200 million dollars in lost retirement benefits that they forfeited at the completion of the Alaska Pipeline Project. The objection to the settlement was filed by Chris White of Local 942 of Fairbanks.
This case has been stewing for 20 years. While it does some good for vested and near-vested laborers it falls far short of recovering the millions of dollars lost with interest or the trust of the disenfranchised workers. Had they made this deal in 1978 in would have some merit. In today's declining market of union jobs it extends the hollow promise of benefits to all participants and the worst of all the fund retains the right to do it again.
At best, it recovers only .15 cents on the dollar! This is one on the largest swindles of pension benefits since the Teamsters Central States. This kind of phony leadership is very destructive to the labor movement.
The settlement is unfair because it provides no actual benefits for people who are no longer members of the union and are now 20 years older. Some of these guys are real geezers, ( like me). They get only a chance to rejoin at the bottom of the list, pay $325 for the initiation, $21 a month regular dues and 3% of their gross weekly earnings in a dues-check off, stand in line for years, and in most likely get robbed again!!!
There is only a remote abstract possibility for the majority of the workers to vest or recover the lost monies. The officers made sure they got theirs and the bankers, who were custodials of the funds, loaned themselves many millions of dollars of the money from the trust with the protection of Senator Stevens who managed to insulate the swindle with lobbying and federal legistation.
By the time the lawyers are done, there will have been a real feeding frenzy on these monies; that for most of the participants, never will reach its original purpose.
It is too bad because the labor movement lost a real opportunity here in Alaska to do it right.
The GEB Attorney filed disciplinary charges against Craig and Erica Thomas of Local #304. Craig Thomas was employed at the Laborers Training center in San Ramon CA and was a member of 304's executive board. He is accused of holding these positions in violation of federal law because of a prior felony conviction. Mr. Thomas was also charged with Barred Conduct relating to his felonious possession of firearms, and both he and Erica are charged with Barred Conduct relating to their felonious possession of narcotics. On March 9, 1998, the GEB Attorney filed amended Disciplinary charges, adding to the above charge of obstruction, resulting from the couple's repeated refusal to accept service of documents sent to them by the GEB Attorney.
A hearing into this matter will take place during May. Many Laborers in California claim the training center is a haven for the officers of the District Council's relatives. President of the District Council and Business Manager of Local #304 Jose Moreno has a brother who is employed at the training center. District Council Secretary-Treasurer Mario De La Torre also has a son employed there. Did District Council Business Manager Archie Thomas, or Jose Moreno, break any federal laws by allowing Craig Thomas to run for office? Somebody had to know he was a felon.
A candidate for office in Local #607 has been told he must sign a contract to do a mail-out. One of the conditions is that the candidate will pay the local union for all the time spent on the task within 30 days of the mailing. Such cost is recognized to be a lawful fee as set out in Article III, Section 3 of the LIUNA Uniform Local Union Constitution.
Most locals allow the opposition to come into the union office with the mail-out, put the labels on at the union office and go to the mail box with the opposition. Nobody is allowed to take the union mailing list out of the union office.
The fact is, articles like this are designed to keep the rank-and-file members from running for office.
For more info, call 415-621-8468
Voice of the Rank & File is published by the Laborers for Justice and Democracy<. We are dedicated to winning justice and true democracy for all members of the Laborers International Union of North America, working within the parameters of the LIUNA constitution. If you have an article or other useful information for the members of our Union please mail it to us at:
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